My father has had congestive heart failure for several years. A few months ago, he was experiencing chest pains and nausea. He also had difficulty eating since it resulted in difficulty in breathing. All he wanted to do was sleep. Doctors said he was depressed and needed to exercise more..... After months of this, my mother took him to the hospital and refused to leave until they admitted him.... his INR levels were way to high and fluid had been seeping into his pericardial sac. Once they removed 2 quarts of fluid from the sac, stabilized his blood levels and rehydrated him with fluids and blood, he spent a few more weeks in the hospital and is now in rehab. He is working with physical and occupational therapists and they tell us he should be home in a few weeks. He is 82 years old and although he almost died 3 times in the past two months (Doctors spoke to us about his final wishes regarding resuscitation twice), he’s doing well. I should say, at one point, the Doctors were unable to explain why he lived though one episode when they told us it was a matter of hours. The only thing they, or we could credit was that while he was unconscious, our family priest joined us and we all prayed together. After a few minutes, Dad opened his eyes and joined us in prayer. One of the doctors and two nurses just stared with their mouths open and the doctor said “I don’t know what just happened, but it wasn’t medicine”.
So, my advice: have you doctors check out any change in the patient’s condition. Don’t take “I don’t see anything wrong” if you KNOW that something isn’t normal for you or your loved one. If you’re a believer, ask for prayers… if you’re not a believer, accept them (what can it hurt). Finely, have the hard discussion about what your final wishes are, and know the wishes of your loved ones. Make sure you have them in writing, preferably in a living will. If helping a loved one think though their wants, make sure they have the facts about the consequences of their decisions. My mother told me she wants to be resuscitated, but then in a subsequent discussion, said she doesn’t want to be on life support… some resuscitation methods involve the use of life support, that you then have to make the heart wrenching decision to remove someone from.